tv PBS News Hour PBS August 4, 2010 5:30pm-6:30pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: good evening. i'm gwen ifill. a federal judge struck down california's ban on same sex marriages as unconstitutional. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the "newshour" tonight, our spencer michels in san francisco has the latest on today's ruling, on its implications for the rest of the country, and plans for an appeal. >> ifill: then, the president's top energy adviser, carol browner, updates the end to the battle to plug the gulf coast gusher, as new reports show most of the oil now gone. >> woodruff: in pakistan, jonathon miller of independent television news reports from a remote village destroyed by the worst flooding in 80 years.
>> all the water is contaminated, raw sewage swilling round, putrefying carcasses of cattle polluting the water. there is a very high risk of epidemic now, that's the big concern. >> ifill: and, we talk to new orleans mayor mitch landrieu and brookings institution scholar amy liu about the comeback and the challenges five years after hurricane katrina. that's all ahead on tonight's "newshour." major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: california's ban on same-sex marriage was overturned by a federal judge today when he ruled a ballot measure was
unconstitutional. the landmark case brought by two gay couples who contended the ban violated their civil rights has been closely watched around the nation. "newshour" correspondent spencer michels has more on this long battle beginning with some background. >> reporter: it was a decade ago, in 2000, when california voters first banned gay marriage. but four years later, san francisco mayor gavin newsom declared on his own that the city would begin performing and recognizing same sex marriages and 18,000 same sex couples got married. and he predicted his action would have wide repercussions. >> as california goes, so goes the nation. this is so much bigger than the gay lesbian and bisexual community; this is about families coming together; this is about what we represent as americans and what the
constitution represents in terms of its principles and protections. >> reporter: newsom's action set off a long and noisy debate in the streets and in the courts. eventually, the state supreme court approved same sex marriages, reasoning that the law discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. but opponents countered with proposition 8-- a constitutional amendment on the ballot limiting marriage to one man and one woman. it was approved by 52% of the voters in 2008. so gay-marriage supporters, including gay and civil rights groups, went to federal court last spring contending that prop. 8 was unconstitutional since it took away rights from same sex couples. arguing the case against prop. 8 were two high profile attorneys: david boies and ted olson, who were on opposite sides in the "bush verses gore" case that decided the 2000 presidential election.
this time they're on the same side. it was defended by evangelicals and other religious and conservative groups who disapprove of gays marrying and raising children. frank shubert was campaign manager for the proposition 8 ballot measure. >> the people are the supreme power in california. they created the judiciary, they created the legislature, and they control the constitution, and they have decided that marriage should be between a man and a woman. >> reporter: it's not clear yet how today's ruling will affect marriage laws across the country. currently, five states plus the district of columbia allow same- sex couples to marry. more than 40 states define marriage as between a man and a woman. kristen perry was one of the plaintiffs who filed suit against proposition 8. here is some of what she had to say.
>> today, every american should be proud . for so long, sandy and i and our family have been regarded as less than, unequal, not worth i -- worthy of liberty and the pursuit of happiness under the law, but this decision says that we are americans, too. we, too, should be treated equally. our family is just as loving, just as real , and just as valid as everyone else's. >> woodruff: some opponents , meantime, wandered that the decision could lead to legal challenges in states that don't allow same-sex marriage. tony perkins of the family research council wrote, "this lawsuit, should it beuphee supreme court, would become the "roe v wade" of same-sex marrrriage. overturning the marriage laws of
45 stateses." "it's time for the far left to stop insisting that judges redefine our most fundamental social institution and using liberal courts to attain a political goal they cannot obtain at the ballot box." spencer michaels joins us from outside the federal courthouse in san francisco. spencer, i have a copy of this 136-page ruling here with me. i haven't had a chance to read the whole thing. i don't know about you, but fill us in on what the judge's main ruling is here. >> well, judy, i think the judge agreed pretty much with the people who were opposing proposition 8. i have a copy of it as well, and i want to read just a little bit of the conclusion for you. it says, "proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in sing ling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. indeed, the evidence shows prop 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the california constitution the
notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples." so the judge wrote a very strong opinion that more or less coincided with what the opponents of prop aide wanted him to say. >> woodruff: and what we're hearing from the proponents is that, in essence, this judge has said that proposition 8 violates both the equal protection clause and the due process clause of the constitution-- of the united states constitution. >> reporter: well, i think he does say that, and he's also talking a lot about discrimination. many references in this 135-page decision to discrimination against gays and lesbians. that's really a strong point that he makes and so he thinks that that's protected under the constitution, that you can't discriminate. >> woodruff: spence eabout this charge from the critics, the opponents , the supporters of proposition 8, that this was a liberal judge, in fact, he was
appointed by-- initially attempted to be appointed by president reagan and was appointed by george h. w. bush. >> reporter: that's right, he was appoint bide president george h. w. bush. he's regarded as a maverick, a libertarian. there were signs in front of the court that alluded to his own sexual orientation, kind of criticizing him. whether that had anything to do with this case nobody knows but it's been talked about a fair amount. >> woodruff: spencer, what does this ruling mean for coups in the state of california, same-sex couples? are they able to get married now? what's the understanding? >> reporter: well, i don't think anybody knows the answer to that question yet. there are about 100,000 gay couples in california. the people who have opposed gay marriage want to be sure-- and they were anticipating this decision, by the way-- they want to be
sure that the floodgates aren't opened right away for people to get married now. the other side wants to be heard by the judge on that as well, so that's an issue that will have to come up fairly shortly. >> woodruff: and as you suggest, the proponents of proposition 8 had already served notice that they plan to appeal. what is their recourse here? >> reporter: well, they're going to go to the 9th circuit, which is california and the rest of the west appellate court in the federal system. that court has a kind of liberal bias , at least that's the charge. in actual fact, they probably aren't any more liberal than any other court. they're going to take up this case, and from there, what one of the lawyers i talked to today said is that what happens in the 9th circuit is going to be very, very important, that they will set precedent , and if they set a precedent that makes the 9th circuit different than the rest of the country, then the supreme court will want to
step in and settle this issue. you can't have gay marriage approved in the 9th circ exit not in the rest of the country. so the supreme court will want to get involved in that. so that's probably what will happen. it probably will go to the supreme court eventually. the people who are in favor of gay marriage aren't really happy to go to the supreme court at this point. they know the makeup of that court, and they probably figure that they don't have a big chance of winning. >> woodruff: spencer, you were saying in your report a few minutes ago, that it's not clear the effect this is going to have on the other 49 states right now. what is your view? >> reporter: as i said, right now, this court is just a district court, a trial court. it doesn't present a precedent. if it goes to the 9th circuit, then there is a precedent involved, and the 9th circuit rules in most of the states west of the rockies. but the rest of the country
is not bound boit 9th circuit. so the u.s. supreme court would have to make a decision for the rest of the country. >> woodruff: well, the reaction, we know, it just beginning to come in. we respected some of it, and, of course, it will continue. our own spencer michaels outside the courthouse , the federal courthouse there, in san francisco. thank you, spencer. >> reporter: thank you, judy. >> ifill: still to come on the "newshour": secretary browner on the oil spill, salvaging what's left after the floods in pakistan and assessing new orleans, five years later. but first, with the other news of the day. here's kwame holman in our newsroom. >> holman: the senate cleared the way today to helping state and local governments with their budget woes. democrats broke a republican filibuster on a bill to provide more medicaid funding, and save thousands of teaching jobs. the scaled-back measure would cost $26 billion. senators argued over bailing out states and paying for it with a new tax on u.s. companies operating overseas. >> the spending in this measure is fully offset and paid for totally.
so any argument that's being made about this adding to the deficit, it does not. it is a conscious decision to move resources from other parts of the budget where they are not as high a priority, into this priority of keeping teachers in the classroom. >> our people are going to have to pay all this back. so, i mean, we don't have that money to be sending to the states. in this bill, at least there is an attempt to pay for it, but the way they pay for it is by penalizing job creators and forcing people to outsource jobs which again comes back to harm us. >> holman: the senate is expected to pass the bill later this week. and house speaker nancy pelosi announced today house members will interrupt their august recess next week, to give it final approval. another incumbent in congress has lost her job-- the sixth one this year. democratic representative carolyn cheeks kilpatrick of michigan was beaten tuesday in a primary. her son is former detroit mayor kwame kilpatrick. he's now serving prison time, related to obstruction of justice.
also tuesday, missouri voters approved a ban on making people buy health insurance. that directly conflicts with part of federal health reform that takes effect in 2014. on wall street, stocks were up modestly, on word of improved business hiring and service sector activity. the dow jones industrial average gained 44 points to close at 10,680. the nasdaq rose 20 points to close at 2,303. there were conflicting reports out of iran today about a possible attempt to kill president mahmoud adhmadinejad. we have a report narrated by karl dinnen of "independent television news." >> reporter: something made them jump, but what do these photographs show? smoke can be seen to the left of screen behind the motorcade, but did mahmoud ahmadinejad survive a grenade attack or a celebratory firecracker? as had clear from these pictures filmed shortly after the incident, presidential security is minimal.
initially, sources from the president's office said a homemade grenade had exploded about 100 meters from the president's car and a man had been arrested. later reports claimed there had been no attack, atrebting the bang and smoke it a homemade firecracker thrown as a sign of joy by a man excited to see the president. >> it was actually a firekrarker, and as you know, it's quite customary in that region to use firecrackers in welcoming ceremonies. >> reporter: mr. ahmadinejad went home to make his scheduled speech, and he didn't mention the incident. >> holman: widespread protests erupted in iran last year, after ahmadinejad's disputed re- election. and earlier this week, he claimed israel had hired mercenaries to try to kill him. the fires burning across russia shrouded moscow today in the heaviest smog yet and the death toll grew to 48. drivers in the capital needed headlights to see their way
during daytime. the smoke and haze came from hundreds of fires burning in central and western russia aided by weeks of unseasonably hot, dry weather. in one day, firefighters put out nearly 300 fires, but 400 new ones were spotted. chipmaker intel has reached a settlement with the u.s. federal trade commission. the company was accused of intimidating computer makers not to use chips made by rivals. the f.t.c. said as a result, computer prices did not fall as fast as they might have. intel has denied the charges, but under the settlement, it agreed to change its business practices. for the record, intel is a funder of the "newshour." 40 of america's wealthiest people pledged today to give away at least half of their wealth. they signed "the giving pledge", started in june by investor warren buffet and microsoft co- founder bill gates. the new additions to the list include new york city mayor michael bloomberg, c.n.n. founder ted turner, energy tycoon t. boone pickens and "star wars" creator george
lucas. they've agreed to donate 50% or more of their billions, either during their lifetimes or after death. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to gwen. >> ifill: b.p. reported success today in its effort to end the gulf oil spill once and for all. that word came 107 days after the crisis began. political leaders welcomed the news, but gulf coast residents were willing only to wait and see. after a series of failed attempts to stem the flow of oil gushing from the macondo well, officials said the latest effort, the static kill, appears to be working. crews pumped in heavy mud for eight hours overnight. and early today, b.p. reported the well had reached a static condition with the pressure under control. a few hours later, president obama expressed his relief. >> it was very welcomeews when we learned overnight that efforts to stop the well through
what's called a static kill appear to be working, and that a report out today by our scientists show that the vast majority of the spilled oil has been dispersed or removed from the water. so the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end. >> ifill: administration officials later said 74% of the more than 200 million gallons that leaked, has either evaporated, or been dispersed, or collected. that would still leave 50 million gallons or more in the gulf, about five times the size of the 1989 exxon valdez spill. jane lubchenco heads the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration. >> the bottom line here we can account for all but about 26% and of that much of that is in process of being degraded and cleaned up on shore
. >> ifill: but the estimate was met with skepticism by many in the gulf region. charter boat captain ryan lambert spoke with the newshour's tom bearden in buras, louisiana. >> we're talking about 40 million gallons of oil that's unaccounted for, at least. we were getting 5,000 barrel estimates at first, then it went to god knows what. the whole thing has been a bout perception since day one. it puts a lack of trust in my mind, right off. >> reporter: you don't believe b.p.? >> i don't believe any of them. it looks to me like that there's too chummy a relationship between the government and them and the cleanup and the whole thing. >> ifill: that kind of suspicion was also evident elsewhere today. >> we don't think after three
months of oil spilling in the gulf, that it capped for two weeks, it's all better. >> it gives some people the idea that everything is okay, so b.p. can leave and everything is done and over with. >> ifill: back in washington, the president and his aides reiterated that recovery and restoration will continue until the job is done. >> there's a lot of reasons why there's no "mission accomplished" banner. there's a lot of work to do. we're not leaving the area, and more importantly, we're not leaving behind any commitment to clean up the damage that's been done and repair and restore the gulf. >> ifill: meanwhile, the use of chemical dispersants to dissolve the oil came in for senate scrutiny. at a hearing, assistant e.p.a. administrator paul anastas, said his agency had a tough decision to make. >> the long-term effects on aquatic life are still significantly unknown, but what we do know right now is this: we see that the dispersants are
working to help keep the oil off our precious shorelines and away from sensitive coastal ecosystems. >> ifill: anastas said e.p.a. had not found the dispersants to be excessively toxic but he emphasized that more testing and monitoring must be done. >> woodruf more now on these developments from president obama's chief assistant on energy and climate change, carol browner. i spoke with her in the white house briefing room a short time ago. carol browner, thank you very much for talking with us. >> thank you for having us. >> woodruff: so is this well now history? >> well, we certainly got good news today. the static kill, the mud was pumped down. that's holding. we feel quite confident we won't see any more oil leaking from the well. we still need to complete the the relief well. but then we have to stay focused on restoring those communities, restoring in the environment. we're going to be in the gifl for a very, very long time.
>> woodruff: but the real estate leaf well was still needed. >> yes, the relief well is still needed. scientists were debating whether we could put cement in through the relief well and that is probably another two weeks away. >> woodruff: the report the government issued today about the oil that did leak over the past few months, 200 million gallons, three-fourths we are told has either evaporated or doorpd or skimmed or otherwise disappeared. how reliable is that report? >> well, a group of government scientists looked at all of the information that we had. they drew some conclusions from it. that was shared with outside scientists, academics, other ands, some industry experts. and what everyone agrees is that about a thifrtd oil was actually cleaned up. it was contained. it was skimmed. it was burned. tifs dispersed. another big chunk ba quarter, mother mother nature took
care of through evaporation, and there is another quarter that we call residual. that doesn't mean it's out there waiting to come ashore. it just means it's not in one of the congratulations. some has already come ashore and been cleared. some may come ashore in the form of tarballs. what we wanted to do is show the american people what had happened to the oil-- the effect of the containment, of the cleanup activities, the dispersants, of mother nature doing their job. >> woodruff: i ask how reliable those numbers are because some people woke up this morning and said, wait a minute, the biggest accidental spill in history, and three-quarters of it is gone? we talked to a boat captain and others today in the gulf area who said they just don't believe the government anymore. >> well , this is all available. they should go to the noaa web site. there are other scientists who have looked at it, who concur with these numbers. we're not asking them to simply believe us. we're sharing with them information that we think is important. we're sharing that information in its entirety. we do know that 17% of the oil was captured.
we know because it was put in vessels and it was brought on shore. we know what happened with skimg because, again, it was picked up. we know when the burns happened, how much had been corralled for the burns. so we had some very, very good numbers in terms of activities out there. in other instances, if the scientists weren't quite so sure, they accounted for that in the residual. i think this is-- i mean, we believed from the beginning, jid, that the public had a right to know anything that we knew, so as numbers have emerged, whether it be the flow rate, the early numbers based on very, very simple calculations. as the calculations got more sophisticate we made those numbers available. it may be the numbers may change, and we'll make that available. >> woodruff: so where is the residual oil, the oil that is still there? where is it and how much of a threat is it to the environment to, people, to wildlife? >> so that category called "residual" some of that has come on shore and been cleaned up.
there are many, many tobz of oirblg sand oil , reeves, marshes that have been cleaned up and taken out. some may come in the form of weathered oil, tarballs. nothing has leaked for two weeks now so nature continues to do its job in terms of biodegrading, breaking it down. the stuff is very weathered. we're going to remain vigilant. we're going to continue to direct b.p. to spend the money to get the beaches cleaned up if oil does come ashore. we're not going away. >> woodruff: and the oil that was chemically dispersed. we saw 8% was disposed of in that way pain lot of concern about the long-term effects of those checals. how much is known about that. >> we study the chemicals before they were used. they will continue to study the water column. the e.p.a. has conducted two toxicity tests. noaa continues to test. the decision to use dispersants is always a difficult one.
oil is highly toxic in the environment so using the dispersants to minimize the toxic impact i think was a good decision. e.p.a. made sure that it was done according to protocols and e.p.a. asked admiral allen to issue a directive to lower the amount of dispersants being used, so a 72% reduction in the amount of dispersants used at the high point was finally achieved. >> woodruff: and you said a minute ago, carol browner, that the government was going to be in the gulf for a time it come. how much longer is the government going to stay there to look after the well-being of the people, the businesses the wildlife, the environment in the gulf? >> we're not putting a time frame on it. we're going to stay as long as we need to be there. and you raise all the right issues-- the welfare of the people, the economic losses, helping people get back to work, getting the fisheries reopened , making sure if any oil, tarballs come on shore that it's cleaned up. we are committed to the gulf for as long as it takes to make the gulf-- you know, the
best it can be. i mean, the people of those communities deserve it. so do the people of our nation. we all enjoy the seafood from the gulf. this is a national treasure about whether the incident commander, thad allen, extended too much exceptions in the use of those dispersants. what can you-- can you give any assurance on that front? >> i think the most important number for people to look at is the 72% reduction in the use of desperceants from the highest point. it was coming down , that was, i think, a large measure lisa jackson's work with admiral allen that they were not using as much as had once been used. clearly, erybody is going to be studying what the oil did to the environment, what
the dispersants mean in the environment. there's a lot to learn. i think the good news today is there's no oil leaking. there's not going to be oil leaking, and giving the public an accounting of where the oil went. >> woodruff: going >> ifill: pakistan is struggling to recover from its worst flooding in 80 years. monsoon season has already killed 1,500 people and left millions more in need of help. today, the floodwaters pushed into the heart of the country and threatened to surge south. in washington, secretary of state hillary clinton said the u.s. is already helping with money, aid workers and rescue assistance. >> i want to convey the condolences of the american people to the pakistani people on behalf of everything they are confronting. i have been to pakistan a number of times and i have seen first hand the strength and resilience of the people of pakistan. they have the capacity to come
through this challenge and swiftly rebuild and as they do they can look to the u.s. for support. >> ifill: for more on the situation on the ground in pakistan: jonathan miller of "independent television news" traveled west from islamabad to a remote village devastated by the floods. >> reporter: the first thing you notice when you enter nowshera is the army is nowhere to be seen, that and the densely populated central reservation. these people's only protection now as they emerge from the violent moon spoons 100 yards off the road, a dead village, completely leveled by the raging torrents of the nearby kabul river, everything destroyed. survivors devastated by what they've been through.
they had no help, it seems, no outside assistance-- no medicine, no food, no drinking water. it turns out, these people are all afghan refugees . now , they're homeless again. "so no one has been here at all?" we asked, "after nearly a week?" >> "absolutely no one. you're the first people we've seen." there is relief and indignation that they've been completely overlooked. they say 300 people died here with many more missing. "why shouldn't we be angry? we've been destroyed? the water came early in the morning. we left only in the clothes we stand up in. all we could do was rescue the women and children. we lost everything. no one is concerned about our polite." saddam kahn said they are stuck in the
wasteland because the police refused to let them move. the local men showed me around. he also showed me whaufs once the local school, and this, he said, had been his home. this man just salvaged what he could. government helicopters occasionally fly overhead , but none has landed here. you can see walking around here this rather grim tour i've had. all the water is contaminated, raw sewage swilling around. carcasses of cattle are polluting the water. there is a very high risk of epidemic now. that's the big concern. until last week, this was the main pharmacy and clinic.
>> many are suffering from disease. >> reporter: because of the contaminated water. >> contaminated water and the food. >> reporter : we found a roadside medic. people were all pakistani volunteers. pakistani army has failed to step into the breach, the government deemed by everyone we met incompetent and impotent. more than three million people affected, a third of them children , a million reckon to be in need of emergency assistance, and only a fraction of those would have received help by the end of this week. the floodwater is now surging south, drowning more villages, inundating the rich farmland of the punjab, the breadbasket of pakistan. a humanitarian disaster turning into a food crisis alcohol last for many months.
i wish he was here every day. >> ifill: finally tonight, the road back for new orleans and the problems that remain. five years ago, hurricane katrina carved a path of disaster and destruction through the crescent city, changing life there forever. the storm flooded roughly 80% of new orleans, destroying more than 180,000 homes and much of the infrastructure. what's more, the region has survived a triple whammy: katrina, a national recession, and most recently, a catastrophic oil spill. but a new report out today by the brookings institution in washington takes a mostly upbeat look at the city's halting recovery.
it finds new orleans' population is back up to 350,000, roughly 80% of its pre-katrina total. the poverty rate, at 23%, is the lowest since 1979, although still 10 points above the national average. in the greater metro area, the number of jobs has now reached 85% of the total held in august 2005. and average wages in the region are up 14%. president obama took note of the achievements when he visited a charter school in new orleans last year. >> i'm especially glad to come back here because i remember four years ago, right after the storm, a lot of people here felt forgotten. but because everybody worked hard, everybody kept hopeful, everybody was determined to rebuild. you now see just a school that
is doing much better than it was ever doing before the storm. ( applause ) >> ifill: overall, the study finds new orleans has emerged from the flood with better schools, better accesso healthcare, a stronger criminal justice system and a renewed presence in arts and culture and the region got a big psychic boost when the new orleans saints won the last super bowl, in the same stadium that sheltered desperate thousands after the storm. but some areas of the city remain bleak. many of those driven from ruined homes in the lower ninth ward never returned, some of the neighborhood is now rebuilt, much of it is still abandoned. >> ifill: for more on the challenges facing new orleans today, we turn to new orleans mayor mitch landrieu, who took office last may. and amy liu, deputy director of the brookings institution's metropolitan policy program and co-author of the report. mayor landrieu, i want to go
through that triple whammy there-- katrina, the economy, the oil spill. let's start with what's happened since katrina, especially on the housing front. are people back? are their homes rerebuilt? >> there's no question those three things hurt and hurt badly but i think you can see from the report we're heading in the right direction. we're rebuilding the core infrastructure but we have some challenges. housing in in parts of the city are doing well, housing in other parts not so much. i'll be leaving here to go down to lower 9 and upper 9 to talk to the community about ways the city can continue to work to rebuild that neighborhood because it's so important to us. but the report was positive. i want to thank aimet and brookings institute for giving us some baseline to work off of, and as i said , heading in the right direction but some what of a way to go. >> ifill: t's talk about the school system. has there been after overall improvement and how much father yet does the city have to go? >> reporter: well, i don't know
, i think what this report find is that there are some really promising signs, and first of all, this region is starting to , you know, rebound in some ways better than before in terms of some sibz of a healthier economy. you've already mentioned the better schools. and some better social outcomes. and i think building back better than before is really critical because if you put all the federal investment into the community and we want to make sure we don't replicate some of the problems the city had before. but i think the other real promising sign is the fact that the people of new orleans have been really working hard to really change the systems that were really broken in the past. you already mentioned the schools, the health care system, the criminal justice systems. and by -- and we're starting to see some promising outcomes as a result of these changes
but i think what it also shows is the people of new orleans are starting to show the capacity to really reinvent themselves. but as the mayor said and as the report shows, this is a city and a region that is a work in progress, and there are a lot more challenges that remain. >> ifill : so, mayor landrieu when you go to the meetings and say look how much better things are. do they say i'm feeling better or look how much more we have to do? >> it valley a combination of both. i think amy pointed out the most salient point. first of all, we're still here and people predicted we would not be. secondly, i think the people here have shown tremendous resillence, especially in the face of the b.p. oil spill. thirdly, they've shown a capacity to build back better than before, not concentrating getting where we were but how transformationally the change structures in the areas she spoke about. when you're on the ground you really get a tale of two cities. some people are doing better, some people are doing worse, some people are doing both
at the same time. i think there is a sense of eternal optimism here as hard as it's been. it's very hard. this is not an easy walk that we're walking but at least i think most people think we're heading in the right direction. they're impatient. they're a little bit frustrated of where we have gone because of course you want to get back as quickly as you can but i think they know we will get there. >> ifill: let me read some numbers-- $67 million budget deficit which you talked about last week. poverty rate of 23%, which is 10% more than the national poverty rate. tourism, oil and gas industry, shipping industries, on which you rely, not bounced back yet. what has to happen next in order to get these underpinnings to support your optimism? >> correct, let me address both of those. my optimism is not just trying to gloss over the bad things. my optimism is with our expablt willingness to confront the real problems , acknowledge that they're there and to beat them back. for example, on the poverty rate, that's not really a good number but it is down
from 28% so it's trending in the right direction and for the first time we're actually counting it, talking about it, and coming up with a strategy to deal with it. the $67 million budget deficit was hidden for the past years. we identified it, and i took actual steps to get rid of that $67 million budget deficit between now and the end of the year. and so it's that kind of approach that's really different, that gives us least a sense of optimism that we're going to get better. in terms of the big, big structural things that are problems-- and we have a lot of them-- we have to begin to come up with strategies to deal with them in very specific ways to give people the sense of hope and optimism, and we're going to deal with them and keep trending in the right direction. the way do you that is continue to get out into the community , talk to them, ask the community for help, and what amy hasn't told you is one of the great outcomes of this report is we have really aggressive neighborhood participation now, and the community is beginning to build the solutions from the ground up, and the schools are the best example of the success that you can generate from that kind of civic
engagement. >> ifill: amy liu, i have some member numbers i want to ask you about as well, and it's who is benefiting from the rebounds in the median income level. accordinging to your report, black and hispanic households earned incomes 44% and 25% , respectively, lower than what white incomes-- what households earn. what do you do with that? >> there is no doubt that we still have really wide racial and economic disparities in the city. you already talked about the wage gap, the high poverty. we also have real disparities in terms of educational outcomes in community. so this is one of the great challenges facing the community. i think what we need to do is as we reinvent the economy, which you also flagged as a really important problem, is that we need to really upgrade the skills of the workers there. through retraining, through access to community colleges, through access to higher ed.
we also know, as we heard from some earlier clips, that the administration is going to be involved much longer in the coast, now that the well has been capped. so we're going to see diminish investments to hospital work experts business in the community. as those dollars will be to restore the coastal wetlands, to restore infrastructure in the area, come down, we need to make sure that some of the small minority businesses really get access to and participate in those new contract work. so i think there's a number of opportunities we can really work towards to close that gap. the one thing i want to also mention that is real disturbing and i think is a concern for many people is we still have a challenge of ensuring that a lot of folks who have left the city have a chance to come back. the reason why -- one of the principal reasons why the poverty rate has dropped down is because a lot of low-income folks have not come home, and part of that reason is rent have gone up
40% since the storm. i think there are now 58% of the rental population that can't afford to live in the city at this point. so not only do we need to close those disparities but we need to ensure there is an opportunity for households of all incomes to live in the city. >> ifill: mr. mayor, i also want to talk to you about what add lou has suggested about the impact of the oil spill. part of your plan here was to create this coastal wetlands restoration program. how much has that been derailed, frkly, by the damage we've seen from the oil spill? >> well, there's no question that that oil spill was damaging, not only to us but to all of america. louisiana and the coast has been at the tip of the spear for the nation's qoft for energy independence and economic security, and this b.p. oil spill has just laid bare how slurbl we are. but the question now sjust like after katrina, how do we not spend time blaming
people but find a way to restore, to find some redemption, to find a new way out. and one of the things b.p. can do if they really want to make it right-- and the rest of the oil industry-- is headquarter in the city of new orleans and begin to rebuild that coast. for a long time we've exploited that resource and not restored the coast or the things necessary so that we can use that resource well and that attitude has to change. we have to see a complete change not only in the leadership of b.p. but in the corporate responsibility of b.p. and the rest of the oil industry. it also can help us close the wage gap amy was speaking about which is a very, very serious problem. there is no american city which can sustain an a wage gap like that between the african american community and caucasian community. we have to work real hard. institute a new program a couple of weeks ago in the city. we're going to make sure the federal funds are spent in a way that african americans, mine orktz women, have an opportunity to participate, not just in a small portion but to build capacity. and finally, on the
education piece, this is what we why what we're doing in education is so critically important. if we can get the schools moving in the right direction, that is the best opportunity to close the wage gap. it is a very serious problem and one we have to attack in a very aggressive way. sglaenz we've been doing for the past five years we'll keep watching. mayor mitch landrieu, and amy liu, thank you very much. >> woodruff: again, the major developments of the day: a federal judge in san francisco overturned the state ban on gay marriage in california. b.p. claimed success in the effort to kill that damaged oil well in the gulf, after pumping in mud for eight hours. and the government reported most of the oil has evaporated, dispersed or been cleaned up. on "the newshour", white house energy adviser carol browner insisted there's good data to back up the claim. the "newshour" is always online. kwame holman, in our newsroom, previews what's there. kwame? >> holman: there's more on the ruling on california's proposition 8, including a conversation about the ramifications for same-sex
marriage. on "the rundown" news blog tonight, find a photo essay from flood ravaged pakistan. and a reminder: our political unit weighs in each day on stories to watch in "the morning line." today's include whether the constitution should be changed to prohibit children born to illegal immigrants from being granted automatic citizenship. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. >> ifill: and again, to our >> ifill: and that's the "newshour" for tonight. on thursday, we'll have more gulf coast reaction on the oil spill story. i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. we'll see you on-line and again here tomorrow evening. thank you and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by:
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